3rd Year: Rural and Urban Work in 20th Century Ireland

A modern combine harvester and tractor.
In 1900, this work would have had to be done by hand.
Main Page: Social Change in 20th Century Ireland

Go back to: Rural and Urban Life in 20th Century Ireland

You've learned how people lived in urban and rural areas in Ireland, next you'll look at how they worked. Farmers would work by hand (manual labour) until the decades after the 1920s when tractors and electricity were introduced to farms. The grants given by the EEC in the 1970s allowed for the use of modern farming machinery (such as the combine harvester), but with these conveniences come new challenges that farmers must face, such as competition and animal diseases.

Conditions improved for urban workers as well, with machinery being used in manufacturing jobs and service jobs becoming more important. By the 1980s people could work as software engineers or chemists. Unemployment has always been an issue, and now that the Celtic Tiger years are gone, it will be an issue once again, but work in rural and urban areas is continuing to develop.

Continue to The Role of Women in 20th century Ireland




  • Rural Work since 1900: Manual Labour, Whole family involved, Market.
  • Rural Work in Recent Times: Tractors, Electrification, EEC, Modern machinery, Modern farming.
  • Urban Work since 1900: Skilled and unskilled labour, Women at work.
  • Urban Work in Recent Times: Inventions, Service industries, Unemployment.





Click here for exam questions you can be asked about this topic. (Higher and Ordinary)

Urban workers in Dublin took part in the 1913 strike organised by James Larkin



Traveltalks: Glimpses of Erin (1934) (YouTube)
This 10-minute newsreel video was designed to show foreign audiences what life in Ireland is like. It focuses a lot on rural life and work, and shows exactly how people got by at the time. Well worth watching.

Life on a Small Irish Farm
This detailed website has a lot of information about life on small farms in Ireland, both in history and today. 

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
The Department of Agriculture has the job of taking care of farming in Ireland now. Their website has a lot of information on farming in Ireland today.

The Farmers' Journal
More information on farming in Ireland today can be found here.

UCC: The 1913 Strike and Lock-out
UCC have a detailed overview of the events leading up to, during and after the strike and lock-out nearly a hundred years ago. 

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